Red all over

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Toby Eppard

Job: Killian's Master Brewer for Miller-Coors

Home: Golden, Colorado

Years with Miller-Coors: 23

How do you become a master brewer?

I've been working in research and development since about 1994 ... and my examinations were completed in 2004. You get around to building that knowledge level where you feel you can be competent to pass the examinations.

I literally have a certificate on my wall that reads, "Master Brewer from the Institute of Brewing and Distilling, London, United Kingdom." It is not just a title; you've got to deliver.

What does a master brewer do?

The process in the brew house is an exercise in mechanical and chemical engineering and biological sciences, because you have to understand how the barley is turned into malt.

But it's not just engineering, it's not just biology - there is a lot of art that goes into it. What works well with certain ingredients to make certain beers ... and how does all that blend together to make a wonderful beer.

What makes George Killian's Irish Red different from other Irish beers?

In Ireland there are principally three styles of beer that are indigenous: You have dry stouts, you have the red beers and you might have the pale beers.

An Irish brand you would be familiar with is Guinness Stout. George Killian's is really an alternative to that; it is the other style that exists. What is extremely important are the slow-roasted caramelized malts and the heritage the Lett family developed in that process. That's what made those beers that red color.

What's the best part of being a master brewer?

I think beer is fun and it is an application of the knowledge. Anybody who really knows me knows that academics are really important to me. Knowledge and teaching as a coach is my leadership style.

What do you want to teach consumers?

My hope is to teach them just a little bit more than they knew and to help them make a choice when they go drink a beer. And, pick that beer for what it's all about, not what the marketing message is.

What are you doing for St. Patrick's Day?

I'm going to be enjoying this product with my friends in a place that exemplifies what that Irish tradition is. In the U.K. and Ireland, the society is all about the pub, it's about enjoying beer at the pub with your friends. It's a session. It's not like, let's go hammer 15 beers down.

St. Patrick's Day is all about celebrating. It is a wonderful tradition, so let's celebrate it sanely.